“Please buckle your seatbelts, make sure your tray-tables and seat backs are in their upright and locked position.” These instructions are familiar to anyone who has ever flown on an airplane. These are some of multiple safety instructions you will receive from your friendly flight attendants. You might never come face-to-face with the pilot but you are likely to hear his voice setting your expectations for the path ahead. Preparing you with details and directions; the pilot’s role works in cooperation with the flight attendants. The role of the Christian counselor can be compared to that of a “resourced traveling companion”. This is the description God gave me as He was training and preparing me for this calling.
I can’t tell you, but I bet you can imagine, how many times clients ask me, “What should I do.” My clients who know me well follow that up with, “I know you can’t tell me....but I just wish I knew what to do.” They are correct. I can’t tell clients what to do. Partly because my professional orientation encourages autonomy and empowerment, to support clients in making their OWN decisions. But also, it is because I genuinely don’t know what they should do. My role is more like the flight attendant; I facilitate safety, comfort, and encouragement on the journey. When things get bumpy, I’m the calm face, reflecting my peace and trust in the pilot. God determines the path and the specifics of how to reach the promised blessing at the end of the journey. I have direct communication with the pilot which assists me in fulfilling my role. He lets me know when it is safe to get up and walk around, when we need to prepare for turbulence, and when we are ready to prepare for landing.
The analogy breaks down here. Not only the traveling companion has direct access to the pilot; each and every passenger can ask him for the specifics, for the direction, and the expectations of the journey ahead. My role as a Christian counselor is to facilitate and equip the clients by showing them how I communicate with Him and by reminding them that the phone is always available to them as well.